Correlation Between Frost’s Poems and the Modernism Stream
Oct 25, 2018 at Literature Essays
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Current paper determines if there is a correlation between Frost’s poems and the modernism stream in the literature of the late 19th and the early 20th. Robert Frost lived at that time, and he is considered to be a modernism writer. However, living in the particular time do not necessarily means belonging to the particular literature style. Allegedly, Robert Frost did not stick to the all rules of modernism writing.
The paper deals with three Frost’s poems A Patch of Old Snow, The Road Not Taken and Mending Wall. Those poems describe different events and were written under different conditions; however, the author worked on them approximately at the same time. The studied poems have some feature of the modernism pieces. For example, their form breaks from the traditional pre-modernism style. The sense of the economy and directness is presented in these poems, as well
The American Poet Robert Frost
The American poet Robert Frost was born in 1847 and died in 1963. Before publishing in the U.S., his works were initially published in Great Britain. He did well in Harvard, but he had to leave it to support his growing family. Before the death, her grandmother bought a farm in New Hampshire where Robert had worked and lived for nine years. Early in the morning he was writing the poems, which became popular lately. Mending Wall was written in New Hampshire. A lot of his poems depict rural life and nature. Frost suffered from a depression, his life was full of losses and grief as his parents died when he was young, and his sister also died in the mental hospital. Roberts’s daughter was committed to such hospital as well, and his wife had a depression. It can explain why Frost’s poems are rather sad. Robert Frost received four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, and he is one of the most significant American poets.
The Poem "A Patch of Old Snow"
A Patch of Old Snow by Robert Frost was written in 1916. It was a reply to Ezra Pound’s critics of Frost’s verbose style. Hence, the poem is very small in size and pitchy (Tuten and Zubizarreta 268). It first appeared in Frost’s Mountain Interval.
The narrator notices a patch of old snow and he thinks that it is a newspaper flattened by the rain, ”That I should have guessed/Was a blow-away paper the rain” (A Patch of Old Snow 2-3). The snow is compared to the newspaper. The lines “The news of a day I’ve forgotten/If I ever read it” (A Patch Of Old Snow 7-8) mean that one day the newspaper is read, and the other day is forgotten. In this verse, the parallel with the time can be drawn. The time quickly passes by as the snow does. The news can be our days or events in the life, which we tend to forget. The poem is written in two stanzas, totally including eight lines.
A Patch of Old Snow is stylistically similar to Pound’s In a Station of the Metro that is modernism piece. The form and content of the poem have the same features as the modernism literature has. However, Frost in the poem rejected those principles, which had been understood normal in the literature of that time. Modernism breaks with traditional style and form; it is hard to grasp the original meaning as modernists had been looking for new ways of depicting the life. In this respect, A Patch of Old Snow is partially correlated with the modernism literature. The form is preserved, but the meaning is more accessible, and the language is not overloaded with obscure words.
The Poem "The Road Not Taken"
The poem The Road Not Taken is about making decisions. The narrator comes across the fork when he walks in the wood. There are two paths in front of him. Both seem to be appealing and equally worn-out, “Had worn them really about the same” (The Road Not Taken 10). It is hard to choose one road, so the narrator decides to take one path and then return to the fork and take the other. However, he realizes that he is not likely to return to examine the other path, because his choice of the path will lead to the other fork and he will have to choose again and again. Thus, the narrator takes the less-traveled path. This shows his courage. The road not taken ends on the nostalgic note. Robert Frost considers how our decisions affect our future.
The poem was written in 1916 and is included in Mountain Interval. It is based on Frost’s biography, as it is related to the author’s friendship with Edward Thomas. The poem was intended in order to mock the indecisions, but the public as well as his friend Thomas took it more seriously. The poem lead to Thomas’s having been enlisted to World War I, where he was killed two years later.
The Road Not Taken consists of four stanzas and is written in iambic tetrameter lines. It is the most misunderstood by the readers Frost’s poem, it is rather ambiguous in respect of referring it to a modernism piece. The path is the symbol of decision, “I took the one less traveled by /And that has made all the difference” (The Road Not Taken 19-20) seems to be traditional modernists break of rules. Figuratively speaking, the narrator takes the faith in his hands to see what will happen. It reflects modernism features of the poem, but the narrator in the poem always remember the second path; he is not sure whether his decision was right or not. The poem is written in simple language, and these differ from the general characteristic of the modernism literature.
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The Poem "Mending Wall"
The poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost is written in 1914. It is about two neighbors who had a tradition and strictly maintained it. The tradition was concerned the wall, which divided their property. Actually, there was no need to keep the wall anymore and the author expressed this thought in the poem, “But here there are no cows. /Before I built a wall I'd ask to know. /What I was walling in or walling out, /And to whom I was like to give offence” (Mending Wall 32-35). There was nothing to guard, only pine and apple trees, but neighbors continued to keep and mend the wall. In the poem, they constantly repeated, “Good fences make good neighbors” (Mending Wall 27-28). The neighbors believed that the wall was a very important part of their relationships, and it characterized them as good neighbors. Hence, they had been subordinated to the tradition, which according to Robert Frost was rather silly and old-fashioned.
This poem is considered autobiographic. It was written soon after Frost return home from England. He spent nine years in New Hampshire in England with his wife. There, he had a farm and the neighbor whom he had described in the poem Mending Wall. Napoleon Guay lived near Frost’s farm in New Hampshire. They had the wall that separated their households. Robert and Napoleon liked to walk along their property line and every year fixed the wall. Actually, it was Guay who often said Frost the words, “Good fences make good neighbors” (Mending Wall 27-28). Thus, in Mending Wall, the author depicted his neighbor who had become his friend and his nostalgia for these times.
Robert Frost included Mending Wall in his book of poetry North of Bosom. The poem is not arranged with stanzas. It simple has 45 lines of first-person narrative. The author used assonance in certain lines and internal rhyme in the whole poem. In has to be emphasized that Mending Wall is a free verse poem. Such organization can be referred to the modernism.
Robert Frost usually used symbolism in his verses. Mending Wall is not an exception. The line between the neighbors is the symbol of their friendship as they every year were mending the wall merely in order to spend some time together and communicate. It is from one side. From the other side, the wall divided the households of two men. Thus, the idea of removing oneself from the other people is presented in the poem, as well. Modern authors often applied this concept in their pieces. So did Frost. In all these ways, mentioned above, the poem Mending Wall can be correlated to the modernism literature.
However, the modernism of Robert Frost differs from the modernism of other modern poets, especially, in the poem Mending Wall. It is not elitist one and it can be understood by the general public. For instance, it is full of colloquial expressions instead of sophisticated language.
In one of his interview, the poet claimed, “One thing I care about, and wish young people could care about, is taking poetry as the first form of understanding. If poetry isn’t understanding all, the whole world, then it isn't worth anything” (Poetry Foundation). This means that he worked for his idea to make the poetry of that time understandable to the readers. This differ him from the modernism writers.
Thus, the activity of Robert Frost can be treated ambiguously. From one hand, he was a modernism poet, because he lived at the time when modernism pieces were created, but from the other side, he broke with a variety of this stream rules. He aimed to make the poetry clear, and he succeeded. Even though, his works, including studied in the article A Patch of Old Snow, The Road Not Taken and Mending Wall have some parts of the modernist poetry, they are more realistic and comprehensible.